The first round of Capers playtesting is underway. The game is in the hands of about a dozen playtest groups. However, many of you aren't involved in playtesting and I thought you might like to see a bit of the game. Below, you'll see a character sheet and four pages excerpted from the current version of the rules document (which stands at around 50 pages right now).
The Game System
In Capers, every player uses a standard deck of playing cards (with jokers included) rather than dice to determine if he succeeds at a task. For a given Trait Check, you have a number of cards you can flip. The "pip value" (2, 3, 4,...Q, K, A) determines success/failure and the suit determined degree of success/failure. So, a single Trait Check is resolved all in one card flip. You can stop flipping cards at any time and take that result...OR you can gamble for better success. But you must take the result of the last card you flip.
There are ways to gain Boons (which are better successes) or suffer Botches built into the card flips. There are also ways to gain bonuses based on favorable circumstances.
Damage in combat is based on Color of the card or Suit of the card, depending on the attack type. Color is weaker (essentially a d2) and Suit is stronger (essentially a d4).
This is the character sheet for Johnny Lenk, known as "Hotfoot" among his peers. Johnny is a speedster. He's at starting level right here, so this will give you an idea of what a character sheet will look like when your character first starts making his fortune in the vice-riddled 1920s of prohibition.
Each character has six Traits, which describe his basic capabilities. In addition, a character has some Skills, which represent specialized areas he's particularly good at. Exploits are the name for "super powers" in the game. Each Exploit has a basic effects. Additionally, each has a series of Boosts you can add, which are ways your Exploits can become more powerful, more varied, or create alternate effects.
The following describes the basic mechanic of flipping cards when making Trait Checks or employing Exploits that require Exploit Checks (which are similar to Trait Checks in their execution).
Here's a look at two of the Traits in the game and what you can do with them. The Target Score (TS) in the lists here are the "pip value" of the card flip required to complete the task described.
Every Exploit has a rank value that you purchase to gain and then improve your "super power." Some are just 1-2. Others range 1-5. Each comes with a list of Boosts. When you choose an Exploit for your character, you gain a few Boosts. As you improve your character, you can select additional Boosts.
The base game assumes just the basic Exploits. Sort of the baseline of characters who have super powers. If you want to expand beyond this simple form, you can delve into additional things that make the game more complex. These additional rules bring science into the game in the form of "trembium," the newly-discovered element that is responsible for special abilities.
There will be rules for using trembium in different ways, imbuing trembium into items (to create "power armor" and other "special equipment") which will allow you to play the 1920s version of Iron Man or Batman.
I'm exploring ideas for animals with Exploits, lairs, prisons for exceptional people, alternate universes, and a variety of other "comic book tropes" translated into the Capers game world.
More to Come
In the coming months, I'll reveal more of the game. Playtests will help me hone the game into the best RPG it can be and I'll talk a bit about that. There's a lot to do, but I feel things are well underway.
Grab your Tommy gun and focus your heat beams. It's gonna be fun.